Anyway, I was looking through my portable external hard drive for something to blog about, when I stumbled upon pictures from The Grand. I swear we blogged about it last summer, but I couldn’t find the article.
Flash back to May 2009:
The restaurant wasn’t even a month old when we first dined there. (You can read about our first attempt here.) Not many people knew about the newly opened pizzeria and bar. I was very excited to try the authentic Neapolitan Margherita pizza here, as I had been craving some since having a slice of heaven at Pizzeria Libretto (read about my experience here… there are sadly no pics), and after being devastated at La Favorita (read about my experience/rant here… just scroll to the bottom).
When Lucy and I first dined at The Grand, I kept gushing about the pizza at Libretto. Lucy had to remind me a few times to stop thinking about Libretto. The hype would just build it up too much, and no matter how good the pizza would be at The Grand, it just wouldn’t compare. I couldn’t help it.
I ordered the Margherita pizza to “see how good the dough, sauce and cheese were”, but who am I kidding? I just wanted to compare the two pizzerias. With so many delicious options, she opted for the Mercato, so we could share both pizzas.
Before the pizzas arrived, we were pleasantly surprised with a visit from one of the chefs – our uncle! He just popped out to say hello, just before the dinner rush. (I want to mention that we were not asked to blog about the restaurant and the experience, nor were we paid. I don't even think he even knows we have a food blog.)
I remember the Margherita pizza was disappointing, only because I compared it to the one I enjoyed at Libretto. The sauce just wasn’t as sweet, tangy and fresh. There also wasn't any charring on the crust. Since it’s such a simple pizza, it made a big difference.
The saltiness of the parmesan cheese and prosciutto was balanced with the peppery arugula and the naturally sweet dough, to make it a delicious creation. The favourite pizza of the night was definitely the Mercato. Yum!
Lucy's comments: The pizza crust was a revelation for me. It tasted like a rich, flavourful, sweet, yeasty bread crust, as it should. The flavour wasn't overpowering at all; it had a surprisingly light aftertaste. It was my first time eating a pizza with a fabulous crust. Crispy on the outside, but chewy and tender once we got to the middle. Man, my teeth are aching to bite into it again! The texture really did it for me. Git in mah belleh!
We could not leave the restaurant without having some tiramisu. The waiter we had told us that the tiramisu had won an award. What award? Not sure. We didn't ask nor did he specify, but it was delicious nonetheless. We appreciated that our tiramisu was made with a little bit of extra espresso. The strong espresso perfectly matched the slightly sweet marscarpone cheese mixture. This is definitely a tiramisu made for adults, unlike the other tongue-numbing sweetness of some other so-called tiramisus.
We also received a complimentary (from our uncle) duo of gelato; pistachio and something with shaved chocolate. The pistachio gelato was amazing! So good it would make a pistachio gelato lover go crazy... *cough* Robyn @ The Girl Who Ate Everything. *cough*
Dinner at The Grand that night was delicious. The simple décor and the buzz from the other diners made the experience that much better. And hey, it’s located in the heart of the Byward Market, so you can shop afterwards!
By the end of the June, the restaurant was packed full of tourists and locals alike.
I’m glad there’s a place in Ottawa that serves Neapolitan-style pizzas. With so many other places in Ottawa claiming to have Neapolitan pizzas, we're definitely welcoming this Libretto-esque pizzeria to the city with open arms and an empty stomach. Until Ottawa is graced with small pizzerias that pump out high quality pizza pies that taste more like Libretto, I'll keep coming back to enjoy The Grand's pizzas and tiramisu.